Stanford American Indian Organization

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Stanford American Indian Organization

Minorities united

Once on Stanford' campus, the minority students formed communities of their own. In five years, students founded the six major community organizations: the Black Student Union (BSU) in 1967, the Asian American Students’ Association (AASA) and the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) in 1969, the Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO) in 1970, the Gay People’s Union in 1971 and the Women’s Collective in 1972.

“At that time, there were not so many students of color at Stanford,” said Cindy Ng, director of the Asian American Activities Center, “So it was part of students creating a sense of belonging for themselves on campus.”

This early activity took place amid the anger and unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The murder produced different reactions in the Stanford community. According to a Daily article printed the following day, some members of one freshman dorm cheered King’s death and held a food fight afterwards . The Black Student Union (BSU) held a rally in White Plaza in which 40 students burned an American flag.

Four days after King’s death, at a University-wide colloquium on white racism at Memorial Auditorium, 70 BSU members walked onto the stage and took the microphone from former Provost Richard Lyman. The BSU chair, Keni Washington ’68, told the capacity crowd to “put your money where your mouth is,” and issued 10 demands to the University relating to its responsibilities towards black and other minority students.

Two days later, the University had agreed to nine of the ten.

These commitments helped lead to the founding of the Black Student Volunteer Center – now known as the Black Community Services Center (BCSC) – in 1969, making it Stanford’s first community center. Others followed: the Asian American Activities Center (A3C), the Gay People’s Union and the Women’s Collective were founded in 1972, the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) in 1974 and El Centro Chicano in 1977.

“Out of those moments of the ’60s, both on and off campus, the University rose to the fact that it was committed to these values [of diversity],” Ng said. “It’s in keeping with the founding mission, but I think it’s a part of the social movements that occurred.”[1]

Alternate commencement ceremony

May 1975, Several groups are planning an alternate commencement ceremony on graduation day as a protest against commencement speaker Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Currently a Harvard professor of government, Moynihan has attracted criticism from some campus groups over alleged poor scholarship in his works on the problems of black Americans. Charles Ogletree, graduate student in political science and former ASSU vice president, said alternate commencement will be on Sunday, June 15. Ogletree said "its main purpose will be to provide an alternate ceremony for black seniors, black parents and [all J those receiving M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s." Ogletree stressed that the special ceremony is "open to any graduating student who doesn't want to attend the University's commencement."

MEChA spokeswoman Maria Echaveste said chicano faculty, staff and students passed a resolution in early April supporting the black students. "We felt that inviting Moynihan to give the commencement speech was a serious insult." Echaveste said that "we will help them in any way the blacks see fit." * "We do support the black community," said Sharon Malotte, spokeswoman for the Stanford American Indian Organization, but Malotte did not know of the alternate commencement proposal. "We will help in a campaign if asked," she said. Friday the Stanford Asian Students Coordinating Committee (SASCC) voted in favor of a position paper opposing Moynihan's speaking at graduation. The paper stated that "Moynihan's selection is the latest episode in this administration's callous regard for ethnics of color. The action is not only an insult to the sensibilities of ethnic parents and students, but an exercise in abuse on the part of the University's public relations machine." SASCC stated that it regards "the Moynihan invitation as an indication of Stanford's waning commitment to all ethnics of color," and has urged "concerned members of the Stanford community to boycott the commencement exercises at which Moynihan will speak."[2]

Origins of Peoples Platform

Letter to the Stanford Daily, Volume 189, Issue 39, 10 April 1986;

As members of the Third World/Progressive Alliance, we would like to protest the handling of this year's election by Jim McGrath, the elections hearing commissioner. We spent weeks developing the Peoples Platform, a document intended to build an atmosphere of respect for all peoples here at Stanford, in our community and throughout the world. Because we want the 1986-87 ASSU to be responsive to our needs, we have been especially careful not to disqualify the candidates for ASSU Senate who are running to uphold the principles of the Peoples Platform. Since the end of last quarter, we have continuously met with the members of the ASSU Elections Committee to stay within the bylaws of the elections handbook for our campaign to promote The Peoples Platform, and those candidates who have stated their support for the platform.
Jim McGrath has made it especially difficult for these candidates to campaign by overturning his publicity decisions after they accommodated them. McGrath has been making arbitrary interpretations of the bylaws specifically against these candidates. McGrath has treated the candidates who endorse our platform as a slate regardless of the fact that they have constantly insisted that they are running as individuals. For example, he has forced these candidates to check that none of their fliers "appear" (to him) similar in design. He has also ridiculously stated that the candidates cannot share certain words (which he has defined as "buzz" words), phrases, logos or even the same color flier, despite the fact that they all do agree with principles of the platform. Would McGrath ask that congressional candidates not run under the principles of the U.S. Constitution? We do feel that the just bylaws to any election are necessary and ensure a fair campaign. However, we do object to the fact that McGrath is forcing the candidates to waste time emphasizing differences rather than allowing them to express their own chosen principles for their own campaigns.

Lisa Neeley - Stanford American Indian Organization, Ed Gilliland - Stanford Central American Action Network, Jinny Shinsato - Asian American Student Association, Michael J. Schmitz- Stanford Out of South Africa, Derek Miyahara - Asian American Student Association, Amanda Kemp - Black Student Union, Gina Hernandez - MEChA, Elsa Tsutaoka- Third World Women's Caucus.

"A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond"

Unity, January 28 1991, issued a statement "A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond" on pages 4 to 6.

This group was a split in the League of Revolutionary Struggle which soon became the Unity Organizing Committee.

Those listed as supporters of the call included Colin Hampson, Stanford American Indian Organization..


  1. [1]
  2. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 167, Issue 51, 5 May 1975]